Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? For me, when I think back to Secondary school, I can remember enjoying Business Studies the most of all my subjects. This lead me to consider studying something in that field. However, one of my class mates had a solid plan on what she wanted to do. From the day I met her in Year 9, she just knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, what she wanted to study and even where she wanted to study it. I admired her ability to be so definite. However, I think that is probably rare. I certainly had ideas on where my strengths were, but I didn’t really KNOW what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It felt like the accepted path was to either do an apprenticeship or go study at University.
So…where did I end up?
Now I have my own kids, I wonder if they will feel the same way. I don’t think it was my parents driving me into a degree that made me go that way, like I said, it was just the accepted thing to do. In my mind, it was almost like I would have considered myself to have failed if I didn’t go through university. Man I have learned a LOT over the past few years!
I am currently 37. I have now worked as a Registered Nurse (thanks to my uni degree), in a garden centre, in marketing and communication, freelance writing/editing, in the adult learning space and now wellness coaching, blogging and running a web platform. Do you know what? I don’t regret any of it. And I have no doubt I will work in many more interesting and different areas throughout my life. Why? I would say why not? Perhaps it is the deep sense of creativity inside that drives me forward and propels me into new areas. Maybe I just get bored easily. I’m not sure.
All I know is, I’m enjoying seeing my career progress as a journey- I don’t have a set outcome and that is kinda exciting!
Just finished school and not sure where to next? Middle aged and feeling unsettled in your job? Somewhere in between and just simply working in a job you know you don’t love?
Here are some tips I have learned along the twists and turns of my ‘career.’
Its ok if you don’t know what you want to do straight out of high-school
I’m not sure how wise it really is of any of us to think we can pin down a lifetime career at age 18. Really. I mean, I am not discounting the fact that this does work for a bunch of people. Neither am I judging them. I think if you KNOW, that’s amazing! If you don’t know though, give yourself a break and do something you enjoy while you figure it out. I am who I am, despite what I do. I do what I do because it enjoy it immensely and I believe there is a purpose for me in that space at that time.
Dream big dreams vocationally
Sure, you might be working the checkout at the local grocery store right now. You might even hate it. But if you have a bigger dream in mind, then pursue it relentlessly. Sometimes it can seem impossible to make a big change. Maybe finances are holding you back from doing some study that you want to do. Perhaps you don’t have the time to invest in upskilling for a new job you would like to apply for. If you have big roadblocks, remember the most powerful thing you can do is make a small goal that is realistic and achievable, so you can create a win that builds momentum and confidence. (this would be a good point to link to a blog about goal setting).
Don’t give up, settle for the mundane or stop dreaming
I know people who have dreamed a dream for years and years (and years!) before it became a reality. So go on! Dream big, change careers if you want to and don’t feel like you have to figure out what you will do forever right now. Recognise that sometimes you NEED to dream. Other times, you need to ACT to make the dream a reality. I am finding that dreams have a way of crystallising over time. It’s hard work turning a dream into a reality, but it will only happen if you invest the time into that process.
Make an effort to work hard at whatever you are doing right now
I have learned something from each and every job I have had. I am where I am today BECAUSE of all those jobs and the various skills I picked up along the way. Don’t close yourself off to learning something because you don’t think it fits your end vision- remember, your dream might not be clear yet so do your best to give your employee the best you can and make the most of every.single.opportunity! You never know when you will use the skills you pick up along the way.
Network! Value people and prioritise serving well in your work
Its just so important to build networks. I am telling you; networking is gold. Make no mistake, the value of networking (in my experience) is NOT in how many connections you can make with others and for the sole purpose of getting a leg up in your career. Its just about being human. Building social connections is good for your mental health! Show some genuine interest in others and invest in building good workplace relationships.
The short version:
Be professional and put in a good work ethic.
Never stop being curious and learning new things.
Value relationships over promotion.
Dream big! Chase those dreams and be prepared to action them when the time is right.
Life is so good, and work should be too!
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